Returning to Silence
by Jesssica von Schramm, Golden cast member
I didn’t speak as a child. I knew how to, but I suffered from Selective Mutism, an anxiety disorder characterized by the inability to speak in social settings. At school, I would only nod or shake my head and point to things. The disorder was a struggle, but fortunately I outgrew it. Nowadays it’s difficult to get me to stop talking.
But life is all about full circle moments, and now I’ve returned to using the nonverbal communication I relied on so heavily as a kid. In Golden, an improvised play inspired by silent films, we are boldly following in the footsteps of the silent greats like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Mary Pickford. We are daring to emulate our comedic idols such as Lucille Ball, Tim Conway, Steve Martin, and my personal favorite – Gilda Radner. These physical comedians used their entire bodies to express themselves, and our fantastic directors, Marc and Jayme, have taught us how to do the same. We’ve learned how to contort our bodies and faces to create engaging, memorable characters. We strive to make all of our movements – the big, wild gestures and the small, nuanced ones – calculated and intentional.
And, in forgoing the ability to speak, we’ve gained the ability to communicate telepathically. Okay, that’s not true, but sometimes it feels like the cast can read one another’s minds! We spend so much time together that we’re practically fluent in each other’s body language. But that’s not to say we don’t misread things from time and time. And when that happens, well, it’s even funnier.
But Golden is more than just physicality. Space work and music are ingredients of our storytelling as well. We craft our silent narratives using the same alchemy that films such as Nosferatu, The General, The Gold Rush, and Metropolis used – intimacy, focus, and commitment. Improvising a play is challenging; improvising a play silently is doubling down on that challenge. But when I watch my cast perform during rehearsals, I’m reminded that actions speak louder than words. We’ve created narratives about struggling artists, mistaken identities, and wayward cult members. Our stories have been set in decades past and in modern times (get it?). We’ve fallen in love silently, we’ve deceived silently…we’ve murdered silently. Cue the dramatic music!
We’re bringing silence back, and we hope you come along for the ride. In the immortal words of Depeche Mode, “Words are very unnecessary.” Come see Golden every Saturday in April at 6pm. We’ll make sure you enjoy the silence!